September 28, 2017
Australia-based Amaero Engineering, in collaboration with a team of Monash University engineering PhD students, have designed, manufactured, and test-fired a rocket engine. Having successfully manufactured the world's first additively manufactured (AM) jet engine, Amaero approached the team with a challenge to design an engine that would fully utilize the near limitless geometric complexity of AM.
"We were able to focus on the features that boost the engine's performance, including the nozzle geometry and the embedded cooling network. These are normally balanced against the need to consider how on earth someone is going to manufacture such a complex piece of equipment. Not so with additive manufacturing" says Graham Bell, the project lead.
The unique aerospike design offers some unique advantages over its more conventional counterparts. "Traditional bell-shaped rockets, as seen on the Space Shuttle, work at peak efficiency at ground level. As they climb the flame spreads out reducing thrust. The aerospike design maintains its efficiency but is very hard to build using traditional technology," says Marten Jurg, an engineer with Amaero. "Using additive manufacturing we can create complex designs, print them, test them, tweak them, and reprint them in days instead of months."
The development of the aerospike rocket was supported by Monash University, Amaero Engineering, and Woodside Energy through the Woodside Innovation Centre at Monash.